In this interview, I talk to Dave Connolly who, with six colleagues, started Bar Squared in 2006 providing software specially tailored to the needs of barristers.
In 13 years, by total focus on the UK barrister market, they have achieved a 70% share of the England and Wales market and are the exclusive supplier of a system to the Scottish Bar. Bar Squared now has a turnover of £3 million and 30 highly skilled people on their books.
Bar Squared’s biggest challenge arose on their launch in 2007 directly before the stock market crash in 2008. The crash came at exactly the wrong time and created uncertainty in the market and delayed any investment decisions. Bar Squared had the salaries of seven highly-skilled people to pay. Dave’s solution was straightforward: “As we were all shareholders, we just had to dig in and show clients the savings they could make by switching system.”
Bar Squared became successful in replacing incumbent suppliers by utilizing the latest Microsoft technology and taking advantage of changes in legislation including removal of marketing restrictions on barristers and changes to legal aid. They also offered continual updates and improvements to their software as part of the maintenance contract to keep them ahead of the competition.
Despite their very high market share, the demands from the London and the Scottish market continues to grow and precludes Bar Squared from looking at other markets. Indeed, Dave attributes the failure of the incumbents he replaced to their offering systems for several markets, losing focus and resting on their laurels. Whilst Bar Squared does have partners in Barbados, Hong Kong and parts of Australia who use their software, they are focused on continued development of their UK-market offering with newer technology and more integration within the system or with third-party systems such as communications, security, single sign-on or digital tax.
Dave believes that it is “total focus on customer needs, continual system development and hard work ” that keeps them ahead of the competition.
Listen to the exclusive interview below for more from Dave on how Bar Squared navigated the pitfalls and hurdles that face many SMEs today.